As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, many runners are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to return to their favorite outdoor activity. However, after a long winter of reduced activity, it’s important to approach the return to running in the spring with caution. Here are my top tips for safely and successfully returning to running this spring.
Even if you were a regular runner throughout the winter months, it’s important to ease back into your routine in the spring. This means starting with shorter distances and lower intensities than you may have been used to in the past. Consider giving interval training a try and build from there. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your mileage by about 10% for the first week or two, and gradually increase from there.
Making a habit of warming up and cooling down have been shown to improve the running experience. The benefits of warming up include increasing heart rate, improving flexibility, activating muscles, and improving mental preparation. While cooling down helps reduce heart rate, promotes relaxation, and reduces muscle soreness. In summary, warming up and cooling down are essential parts of running that can help reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, and promote overall physical and mental well-being.
Running is a high-impact activity that can be hard on your body, particularly if you’re returning after a break. Incorporating strength training into your routine can help reduce your risk of injury by building up the muscles that support your running. Focus on exercises that target your core, hips, and legs, such as squats, lunges, and planks. Cross training is another great way to strengthen muscles that running may not target, reducing the risk of overuse injuries. By working on different muscle groups, you can also prevent muscle imbalances and avoid putting too much stress on any one part of your body. Swimming, cycling, and elliptical training are all considered low-impact and a great way to stay active on rest days for runners.
As you return to running, pay close attention to how your body is feeling. It’s normal to feel some soreness or fatigue as you get back into the swing of things, but if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a day or two, it may be a sign that you need to scale back your training or seek medical attention, like physical therapy!
With warmer weather comes an increased risk of dehydration, so make sure you’re staying properly hydrated before, during, and after your runs. This means drinking plenty of water throughout the day, as well as bringing water or a sports drink with you on your runs.
Spring weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to dress appropriately for your runs. Dress in layers so that you can adjust your clothing as needed as the temperature changes, and make sure you’re wearing shoes with good support that are appropriate for your foot type.
Returning to running in the spring can be a great way to shake off the winter doldrums and get back into shape. By taking a gradual approach, incorporating strength training, paying attention to your body, staying hydrated, and dressing appropriately, you can ensure a safe and successful return to running. But if you do start feeling aches and pains while running, reach out to us at VTFC to get in for an evaluation. The sooner we can address the problems, the quicker we can get you back out running again.